Palestinians: Visa Scheme — [Martin Vickers in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 5:53 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of George Galloway George Galloway Workers Party, Rochdale 5:53, 13 Mai 2024

I am going to leave aside the fact that this is all entirely hypothetical at this point, because Israel has seized the Rafah crossing in absolute breach of the Camp David accords, which have the power of international law, having been adopted by the Security Council. The Philadelphi corridor is completely sealed, and this is the fourth day in a row on which exactly no food or medical aid—none—has entered Gaza. Therefore, even if the British Government move their show to the border, no Palestinian would be able to get biometric tests anyway.

I congratulate Cat Smith on securing the debate and commiserate with the Minister, who will have to try to answer the literally unanswerable to defend the literally indefensible. Sometimes one detests a Government policy but can understand why they are doing it, but it is impossible to fathom why the Government are resisting the entirely inexpensive demand that this debate and petition ask for. Hundreds of the signatories—391 of them—are my constituents in Rochdale, who are always looking for ways to demonstrate their support for the Palestinian cause, as you will know, Mr Vickers. I declare an interest: one of my parliamentary staff is one of those trying to get their family out of Gaza to no avail.

The attendance at this debate is evidence of the massive support that there is in the country for the plight of the Palestinian people to be at least palliated by our Government, and that could be done so inexpensively that I literally cannot fathom why the Minister is going to rise and resist the demands made by the hon. Member for Lancaster and Fleetwood. Leaving aside all the historical reasons why they should, there is the fact that it was in this very building that the entire Palestinian tragedy was authored, when on behalf of one people our Government promised to a second people the land that belonged to a third people. You would think that that was a matter of historical guilt for our Government that they might want to mitigate in some way, leaving aside the fact that hundreds of our soldiers, police officers, civil servants and staff of this very House were murdered in the King David hotel. Our soldiers were left hanging by piano wire in the orange groves of Jaffa, booby-trapped. Should the Government not have a scintilla of guilt and responsibility for what has happened to the Palestinian people in the past and in the last seven months?

It is not true that our military aid to Israel is minuscule. If we define it by completed pieces of ordnance, it may be, but our components are in most of Israel’s bombs and rockets that are falling down on the poor people in Gaza, who are defenceless prisoners in what the then Prime Minister, now Foreign Secretary David Cameron described as the largest open-air prison in the world. He went on to say that it must not be allowed to remain so, and that was in 2010. Now that he is the Foreign Secretary in 2024, he turns his face away from the people in that prison camp that he said must not be allowed to remain so.

[Philip Hollobone in the Chair]

It is not just ordnance: we have flown 200 missions from our sovereign base in Akrotiri in Cyprus. Who knew that we had a sovereign base in independent Cyprus, a European Union and allied country? We have the right to fly whatever we like out of that sovereign base, and 200 times we have flown spying missions over Gaza for the edification of Netanyahu and his gang in power in Tel Aviv.

Our contribution to this massacre is very significant, both historically and contemporaneously. What are people from all sides asking here, some of them actually capital-F friends of Israel? They are all asking for one small thing: that you at least allow people who are citizens here and contributing here to get their old mother out of Gaza, rather than see her, perhaps on their telephone, being torn to shreds by a bomb that would not have been as effective if it were not for the components being given from British factories and targets being assisted by RAF jets flying out of Akrotiri.

For goodness’ sake, Minister, have some political nous. Millions of people in Britain want you to do something. This you can do with the stroke of a pen, and it would not cost you anything in your popularity stakes with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.